I just can’t get the hang of this columnist thing. Not so much the writing part (though some would say, Oh yeah?!) but the lifestyle. Despite journalism, and especially newspaper column-ism, being among the highest paid professions in the world, we love our perks, and knowing things before everyone else, and I seem to be doing something wrong there. Goose Island, why have you forsaken me?

When I was writing about music, most of my life, the perks were great, for a music fanatic: I used to get 60-100 albums a month in the mail and could get tickets to any show in town, best seats.

How about fifth row, center (better than front row where people walk in front of you), Rolling Stones with Stevie Wonder opening? Considered their best tour, musically. Being able to see the glitter flying off Mick’s temples as he pranced his entrance onto the stage in tennies and jump suit cut to the waist, sucking a lemon, is one of my great rock and roll memories.

Why, you may rightly ask? Beyond the sheer coolness of the moment, it showed me the attention to detail of this consummate showman. It lasted literally seconds and could only be seen by a handful of the thousands who were there, but I figure it was kind of like great underwear – hardly anybody will know about it, but you do and it gives you attitude. It was clearly intentional; excess glitter was laid on that would fly off when the wearer was prancing and bouncing, and it would be seen trailing, hanging in the air oh so fleetingly in the bright white stage lights like some secret portent of prominence, there and gone. And no, I wasn’t stoned.

Or an afternoon sound check by Jethro Tull, in a near-empty 20,000-seat basketball arena aptly named The Pit, that suddenly morphed from the normal cacophony of tuning up into a full-on 20-minute private performance of their killer anthem “Aqualung.” The acoustics of a screaming-loud rock band in the empty arena were unlike anything I’d ever heard before, or since.

The 20 or so of us who just happened to be there were stunned; clapping felt irrelevant. Just shake your head and grin. (Also not stoned.)

I was able to parlay my position into great tickets for the phenomenal comeback tour of Dylan and the Band – in Denver (stoned), and my best score was probably talking my way into a performance by Procol Harum with full orchestra and boys’ choir (100 performers on stage) – in Munich (probably stoned, Eurohash, can’t remember now). And on and on.

And that’s working out of the relatively small burg of Albuquerque. The writers out here in LA got so much more, LPs and shows, plus lots more t-shirts and other memorabilia that never made it inland. Plus they rarely bought a meal. There was always some listening party or press conference, holiday bash or awards show with groaning buffet table, and champagne and Wolfgang Puck hors d’oeuvres being passed. Or so I heard. By the time I was able to make the move out here, the glory days were gone and the industry was laying people off like crazy and tightening belts.

Music journalists are freebie freaks and I was one of them, but in my post-music journalist career here, I’ve never asked for anything, and more importantly, never expected anything. If I’m passionate about something and write about it, and there’s someone who benefits, I expect those unintended (by me) beneficiaries to at least acknowledge that I’m in their corner, and make me one of the first ones they notify if there is some new development. Which is why, after my initial joy, I took it as a slap in the face when I passed a beer display this week in Ralphs.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. There it sat, on a pedestal (well, a stack of cartons), the Holy Grail, my Holy Grail of beers: Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout, in a big tall dark brown filigreed glass bottle with fancy initialed and dated label, signifying the something special that it surely is.

I wrote about this amazing brew not once but twice. “I may go drink specialty beer at the Daily Pint instead. (I shouldn’t tell you that, because you may all show up and they have only one keg of Goose Island’s monstrously tasty Bourbon County Stout, which only shows up at this one bar every six months or so.) Very expensive but you can sip on a small one for an hour, like fine wine or a good Scotch. Maybe, the best tasting beer I’ve ever had.”

Then again, in January: “They have special tastings of small casks occasionally, and I discovered the best beer in the world there a year ago: Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout. I did a sampling of small glasses of each variety, and my faith in humanity was renewed. It’s dense, black, a bit sweet, almost soft and chewy, aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels, you sip it and it puts nearly everything else called beer to shame.”

So how is it, bottled now? Pretty dang terrific. The taste is nearly the same as I remember it from the cask, so complex, startling yet seductive as it rolls from the tip of your tongue to the back of your palate. The sweetness is the first impression but the balancing smokiness is in the finish, and also in the sniffing beforehand. It feels only slightly less thick and the foam is not quite there, but cask is always better.

You may balk at the 10 buck price for one 17 ounce bottle, but when you can get it, rarely, from the barrel, it runs eight bucks for a very small glass, maybe half of a snifter, so this is a good deal. This may be the most expensive beer you ever buy at a store. I won’t get it very often, but I’m thrilled to have it available now.

Why, so thrilled, I’ve written another entire column about it, this brew of the gods. But did the folks at Goose Island, to whom I sent my previous columns, let me know this earth-shaking release was coming? No they did not. I had to stumble onto it, and could have been scooped by some other reporter.

What am I doing wrong? Good thing I’ve got the Bourbon Stout to make me forget.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Beer’s intellectual. What a shame so many idiots drink it.” — Ray Bradbury

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for almost 30 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. You can reach him at therealmrmusic@gmail.com.